Pro-Life Activist Sentenced to Over Four Years for Leading Blockade of Abortion Clinic


Lauren Handy, a 30-year-old pro-life activist, was sentenced to four years and nine months in a federal prison for her role in forming a blockade at an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., in 2020. She, along with several others, had been convicted of federal civil rights offenses after they obstructed the entrance to the clinic by linking themselves together using locks and chains.


The legal decision was handed down on Tuesday and is sure to make waves in the national conversation about abortion in the leadup to November’s presidential election.

Lauren Handy, 30, was among several people convicted of federal civil rights offenses for blockading access to the Washington Surgi-Clinic on Oct. 22, 2020. Police found five fetuses at Handy’s home in Washington after she was indicted.

A clinic nurse sprained her ankle when one of Handy’s co-defendants forced his way into the clinic and pushed her. Another co-defendant accosted a woman who was having labor pains, preventing her from getting off a floor and entering the clinic, prosecutors said.

Inside the clinic’s waiting room, Handy directed blockaders to link themselves together with locks and chains and block the doors. A co-defendant used social media to livestream the blockade, which lasted several hours before police arrested the participants.

During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly addressed the defendant, claiming she was being punished for her actions, not her beliefs. “The law does not protect violent nor obstructive conduct, nor should it,” she said.

The prosecution argued for a longer sentence of six and a half years while the defense argued for one year.

The DOJ asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to sentence Handy to 6.5 years, saying in a sentencing memorandum that Handy and one of her co-defendants were the two “masterminds who chose the clinic, advertised the event, recruited participants, and planned the crime.”

Handy’s attorneys asked for a one-year sentence, saying Handy intended to lead a peaceful event that involved an “attempt to rescue preborn children from imminent death at the hands of an abortionist who Ms. Handy believed performed illegal late term procedures.”


Handy had been in prison for nine months while waiting for her sentencing. She has a history of protesting at abortion clinics without similar incidents. However, she was found to have been storing the remains of five aborted babies in her apartment in 2022. She was not prosecuted for this.

Her defense attorneys characterized Handy as a compassionate activist who “cares deeply for the vulnerable communities she serves.”

The activist’s supporters were present in the courtroom during the sentencing with some applauding and shouting words of encouragement as she was led out of the courtroom. “You’re a hero, Lauren!” one of them declared.

Handy’s sentencing comes at a time when abortion is a hot topic on the national stage. Republicans and Democrats have been duking it out on the battlefield of public opinion. Democrats have been using the issue to paint their opposition as extremists who want to control women’s bodies. Republicans have highlighted the radical views of many Democratic politicians about abortion up to the point of birth.

It is not clear exactly how much influence abortion will have on the upcoming elections. With economic concerns like inflation and jobs, combined with crime, education, and immigration, the issue might not be top of mind for many voters. However, it would be a mistake to presume that it won’t have at least somewhat of an impact, which could be why former President Donald Trump has supported states choosing which abortion policies to implement rather than pushing for restrictions passed at the federal level.


As the legal process continues, several of Handy’s co-defendants are also awaiting sentencing. Other pro-life activists have faced hefty prison sentences for taking actions far less extreme than Handy’s group.